A Supercontinent Led Me to this Ancient Greek Myth

Pangea—you’ve heard of it. The ancient supercontinent of the Late Triassic that slowly broke apart into the continents we have today. Geologists have successfully matched so many rock formations at the edges of so many modern continents that they’ve reverse-engineered the rock patchwork puzzle all the way back to Pangea, or “All Earth.”

A few hundred million years of continents drifting an inch a year.

While looking at reconstruction maps of these long-lost continents, I noticed that scientists had named the ancient oceans around them with names like the Rheic Ocean, the Iapetus Ocean and the Tethys Ocean.

Rhea. Iapetus. Tethys. These were names I’d not heard.

A little googling revealed that they were Titans from ancient Greek mythology, first named by a poet, Hesiod, around 700 B.C. in a work called Theogony, or “Birth of the Gods.”

A little unclear about who the Titans were exactly (other than evil giants in Hollywood movies) and what if anything they had to do with the Greek gods, I found a translation of Theogony and lo, realized I’d come upon the Greek genesis story, like Adam and Eve in the Bible.

The story of Gaia and her Titan children, the builders of the earth. At least in the Greek imagination.

Here, ten years later, Fall of the Titans is one of my favorite epic tales to perform. The character voices are wild. The scenes of origins are exciting and revelatory and fun to enact. And as always with my tales, I’ve composed a score for it on 12-string guitar.

Since it usually takes me ten years of telling such a story to be ready to record it, I’m ripe for the plucking now, and so will be recording Fall of the Titans live at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square this coming Sunday, March 24th at 5 pm.

If you’d like to be part of this live recording event, grab a ticket and I’ll see you there!

TICKETS $15

 

AMBITION, JEALOUSY AND HIGH IRONY: Cronus the Titan

He’s Gaia’s last-born Titan child and talentless, his mother observes. All the other Titans build things—seas, mountains, river systems—but not Cronus. He simply wants to control everything others build.

By the time he’s grown, he’s insanely jealous of Ouranos, his father and Gaia’s husband.

Ouranos rules the universe well until he makes the mistake of angering Gaia by imprisoning a few of her monstrous offspring. Cyclopses and others. In her fury she promises Cronus he can become king if he topples his father from power.

He does it, becomes king and marries his sister Rhea, also, it seems, a talentless Titan. That is until she becomes pregnant and a prophecy is whispered: one of Cronus’s children will overthrow him.

In a rage of fear, he swallows down each of Rhea’s babies after they are born. Demeter. Hades. Hera. Poseidon.

The irony of the overthrower living in fear of being overthrown is not lost on Gaia, but she’s busy creating plants and animals, watching life thrive on her surface, and so let’s things stay as they are. At least for now…

———————–

Come listen to Fall of the Titans, my last show at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square for this winter. Told with a full score on 12-string guitar, character voices and vocal effects, it’s a full evening of adult storytelling. Introduction on Celtic harp. No children please.

Fall of the Titans

March 24, 2019 at 5 pm

Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA

Tickets are $15.

FALL OF THE TITANS at Grendel’s Den on March 24th

After a wonderful sold out performance of Beowulf: The Only One last Sunday, my final show in this year’s Grendel’s Den series is two weeks away.

Fall of the Titans is my feature-length version of the Greek myth of Gaia and her Titan children, and how Zeus and the Olympian gods overthrew these creators of the world. It’s a wild and beautiful tale, with no few modern reverberations.

Grab your tickets now!

FALL OF THE TITANS at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA/Adult storytelling on March 24th

The poet Hesiod was a contemporary of Homer, circa 700 B.C. in ancient Greece, and together, the two of them essentially codified the Greek myths into the wondrously creative interlocking system of magical adventures we still marvel at, to this very day.

Zeus. Hera. Poseidon. Hades. Demeter. Ares. Aphrodite. Apollo. Hestia. Eris. The strange whole bunch of them.

Without a doubt, they were ancient projections of human truths, utterly imaginary, but who, in ancient times, the Greeks took extremely seriously, as did the Romans after them.

The Olympian Gods.

It’s always good to bear in mind when thinking about fossil spiritual systems like this, that as fervently as whatever deity, if any, or deities, that you yourself, dear reader, might worship today–if you worship any at all–well, the ancient Greeks worshiped their pantheon of imperfect gods just as fervently.

Every day.

Prayers for survival.

Supplications before tiny statuettes lit by burning oil in dark, elemental dwellings or stone palaces where, above everybody, equally, the lightning flashed, nearby volcanoes erupted, invisible diseases appeared and storms inexplicably swept in from the sea.

——————————

 

Odds Bodkin

FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling Performance at Grendel’s Den

Sunday, March 24th, 2019 at 5 p.m.

Tickets: $15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning of the World: The Ancient Greek Version–Tomorrow Night!

Beginning of the World: The Ancient Greek Version–Tomorrow Night!

Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin performs FALL OF THE TITANS tomorrow night, Sunday Sept. 23, 2018, at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Showtime: 7 p.m. Ancient cosmological lore and Gaia Theory explored on Celtic harp with commentary, and then an epic tale for adults with a full score on 12-string guitar.

An evening’s spoken-word immersion into how Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Hades and the Gods of Olympus came to be, and how they deceived their parents–the Titans–and took over the world.

Tickets: $13

 

FANTASTICAL GREEK MYTHOLOGY FOR ADULTS this Coming Sunday

Odds Bodkin brings his Celtic harp and 12-string guitar to perform FALL OF THE TITANS at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar Sunday, Sept. 23 at 7 pm. The story of Gaia, her Titan children, and their overthrow by their pea-sized grandchildren, the Gods of Olympus.

Tickets $13

 

FALL OF THE TITANS this coming Sunday in Nashua, NH

FALL OF THE TITANS this coming Sunday in Nashua, NH begins at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar. Adult Greek mythology told with voices and 12-string guitar music. One of Odds Bodkin’s newest epic evenings of storytelling.

Eat, drink and imagine, all in one evening.

Tickets: $13. Get yours today!

 

 

FALL OF THE TITANS/Adult Storytelling in Nashua NH on Sept. 23rd

FALL OF THE TITANS/Adult Storytelling in Nashua NH on Sept. 23rd.

Cronus, her last born Titan, will do anything for power, and so when his mother Gaia asks him to castrate his father, he’s more than willing to do it, but only if he rules the cosmos in his father’s stead. Gaia is so deeply furious with her husband Ouranos that she urges Cronus on. After the deed is done, he hurls the family jewels into the sea, but they don’t sink. Instead, from the bloody package surges a pink froth that shoves a giant seashell up into the waves. When it comes to shore and opens, out steps a tiny, unbelievably beautiful little thing. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, the first of the Olympians. The eldest of them all.

The Titans have no idea what she is.

That’s a mistake.

And so their fall from power begins.

Fall of the Titans

An adult evening event with storyteller and musician Odds Bodkin. A full score on 12-string guitar accompanies the tale.

Sunday, Sept. 23rd at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Café and Music Bar, Nashua NH.

Tickets $13

Something From Nothing

Most folks are familiar with the Biblical account from the Book of Genesis. How God, the Prime Mover, made the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. It’s a cultural touchstone in our part of the world. Modern science doesn’t support it, but as an early origin story, it’s quite elegant.

1:21  “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

While the ancient Hebrews were erecting monotheism in the Middle East, across the Mediterranean to the northwest, the Greeks were still polytheists; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon et. al. personified forces of nature, but with human foibles. Nevertheless, in the Greek origin story, a Prime Mover did start it all.

They called her Gaia, the Earth.

According to Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, before Gaia’s appearance, all was absolute darkness. Absolute stillness. Absolute quiet. The Universe essentially did not exist. Only the nothingness the Greeks called Chaos existed, or didn’t, depending on how you look at it. Then Gaia appeared in the Chaos. No stars yet. No sun or moon. No mountains or seas, either. Just a featureless, lifeless globe spinning in total darkness.

If you’d like to hear how this innocent start to existence ended up torn apart by warring Titans and Olympians in a tale of betrayal, castration, hidden babies and super-weapons, get your tickets today for FALL OF THE TITANS. You’ll learn how the Gods of Olympus were born.

An adult storytelling with characters and music on Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

 

Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS

Sunday, September 23rd 2018 at 7 pm

Riverwalk Café and Music Bar, Nashua NH

 

WHEN MOTHER NATURE DECLARES WAR: Houston and Hurricane Harvey

It’s simple. As the planet’s air warms it holds more water vapor. That means that when it rains, it pours. For three decades, climate scientists have tried to get their message out and much of the world has ignored them. They predicted storms just like Harvey, and here it is, along with Sandy in New York. But giving storms human names diminishes what they are. In truth, they’re weather monsters. They should be named Godzilla, or Hurricane Frankenstein.

Science can be hard to understand, but stories aren’t. If you want to help those climate scientists convince the public and learn to tell science-based stories about climate disruption yourself, come to Boulder, Colorado this September.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action, Boulder’s climate symposium, takes place Sept. 15-17 at Shambhala Center. This year there’s a new emphasis: climate storytelling. Join us.

The Helpless Sky

In the last line of a story I’ll be telling at the Climate Symposium in Boulder next fall, Gaia, the original Earth Mother, reflects on how uncomfortable anger makes her feel. Bad things happen when she senses injustice and she’s been implacably rough on her husband Ouranos and grandson Zeus during the story. What, she asks herself after she goes into hiding now that the Titans have fallen, could ever make her that angry again?

 
I guess the time has come. Our atmosphere is definitely angry nowadays. Basically, it’s drier dries, wetter wets, windier winds and hotter hots. Fire seasons continue to lengthen. Whether rain or snow, precipitation is heavier, hence floods in new places. When they do begin to spin, hurricanes and tornadoes are more destructive than before. Insurers are desperate for forecasts. For thousands of years, farmers and herders in Africa, South America and the Middle East counted on rainy seasons to avoid famines. Slowly drying out now, those lands are forcing migrants to flee what are essentially climate wars. We haven’t even mentioned our own great population centers, built at the sea’s edge.

 
Ever cooked spaghetti in a pot? You turn on the heat and wait for the boil. Long ago I learned that if I cover it with a lid, it boils twice as fast. Instead of letting heat escape out the top, I trap it in a closed system. Smart, right? It might be hard to imagine, but Earth’s atmospheric pot had no lid prior to the Industrial Revolution. Over the last 150 years, though, we’ve installed an invisible one made of greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels. It’s not anyone’s voluntary doing. We only figured this out a few decades ago. Up until then, all that exhaust was progress. As vast as it is, we’re slowly closing off Earth’s heat release system, high above our heads. Not completely yet, but we’re getting there, busily tossing tiny carbon footprints by the billions up into a helpless sky.

 
There has to be a way to figure this out before the thing boils, with us in it.

 
I’ll also be conducting a workshop designed to turn climate-aware people, including scientists, into The Cadre of Science Storytellers.

What is Gaia Theory? What Does It Have To Do With FALL OF THE TITANS in Cambridge?

This coming Sunday January 22nd at 5:30 pm I’ll return to Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA to tell Fall of the Titans: The Original Game of Thrones, an ancient Greek myth. The 90-minute show, told with narration, character voices and a score on 12-string guitar, is prefaced, believe it or not, with modern science, Gaia Theory in particular. Gaia Theory isn’t a belief, it’s a bundle of sciences. Biology. Chemistry. Physics. Ecology. Plate tectonics. Climatology. Paleo-geology. Vulcanology. Glaciology. On and on. It combines these and other disciplines into the grand notion that Earth is a giant, self-regulating organism, creating and sloughing off complex life forms for many hundreds of millions of years.

Pangea (“all-Earth”) is the name scientists have given the ancient super-landmass that fused the continents 300 million years ago but which drifted apart into what we’ve got today. In certain places, rock layers along the west coast of Africa are identical to rock layers along the east coast of South America, after all. Now the Atlantic Ocean separates them, but at one point they were in the same spot on Pangea. Continents drift about an inch a year.

So what’s the link to my storyteller’s version of Hesiod’s Theogony, a poem from 700 B.C. about the ancient Greek gods we see in the movies all the time? The link is paleo-seas, the waters that surrounded Pangea’s break-up. Scientists have given them names. The Tethys Sea. The Iapetus Ocean. The Pontus Ocean. The Rheic Ocean. Where did these strange names come from?

Well, the scientists who named them were obviously familiar with Hesiod’s creation myth, because Tethys, Iapetus, Pontus and Rhea were Titans, children of Gaia, the Earth itself, all of whom are characters in the Theogony (“birth of the gods”). Think of them as the Earth-Makers. The Bronze Age Greeks looked around and saw mountains, sky and seas and had no idea where they’d come from, so they dreamt up a Titan who created each one of them. Tethys, a Titaness, created the streams and rivers. Pontus created the sea. Iapetus created death to make room for new life. Rhea was the mother of the Olympian gods––Zeus, Hera, Hades, Demeter and so on. They were all part of a family that tore itself apart because of imperfection.

At least that’s the story.

So learning about ancient seas made me curious about the names, the names led me to the story, and now Fall of the Titans is a full-blown performance piece. It’s lots of fun with some pretty cosmic music on 12-string guitar and voices for Gaia, Ouranus, Cronus, Rhea, baby cyclopses, Zeus and others. It is an adult story and is definitely not recommended for children.

I’ll have my Celtic harp to help introduce the science part.

Tickets are $15 for tables and $10 bar seating. I hope to see you there!